Welcome to the Gates Summer Reading Wiki. This Wiki is designed to help you choose books for your summer reading. We have listed sample book titles and summaries to help you choose your two books, as well as sample reflection entries, and other information you may find helpful.

Summer Reading Requirement 2014
This summer we are asking that you read at least two books and write a reflection about each. Here at Gates we focus on our education and growth as independent learners as well as on our community and what it means to be part of a community. We have therefore chosen two themes and we would like you to choose books with those themes. We invite you to choose books that have either a theme of social leadership or a theme of an individual overcoming obstacles. Listed in the table below are titles that have these themes. Please remember that you are free to choose your own books as well. This table is only a small sample of the wonderful books available. The town library or local area bookstores can also help you choose books that you will enjoy reading.

For the reflection, we are asking you write a 1-2 page reflection explaining how your book relates to one of the themes. I have written a sample reflection below that can serve as your guideline. You may handwrite or type your reflection.

Mrs. Sullivan
Book: Witness
Author: Karen Hesse

I just finished reading Witness by Karen Hesse. I really liked it because it was written sort of in a poem form. Each page was a short snapshot written by a different character. The story takes place in a rural Vermont town in 1924. It is about racism. The main character, Leonora Sutter, is a 12 year old African American girl. A few other characters include Esther Hirsh, who is a 6 year old Jewish immigrant,Sara Chickering, who is a farmer, and Iris Weaver, a young restaurant owner. Members of the Ku Klux Klan move into Bellows Falls and many things happen. I really connected with this story because each page is a different point of view, and how they each deal with the Ku Klux Klan, the dangers and threats, and the changes that are happening. I think this book has both themes-the theme of social leadership and the theme of an individual overcoming obstacles. The entire book is about the racism that both Leonora and Esther have to deal with on a daily basis. They both are tormented and sometimes hurt, yet they continue to go about each day as normally as possible. They never try to retaliate or get back at those people who are hurting them. Leonora's mother had recently died and she still showed courage and determination, even when kids her age were really mean to her. Because we are able to read the beliefs and reactions of the characters who are members of the Ku Klux Klan, are able to understand their point of view and why they treat Leonora and Esther the way they do. I also could really understand the pain that both girls went through and how strong they were to keep going. Sometimes it is hard to connect with stories that happened to long ago. The racism that these people experienced doesn't exist here today. My friends are not beat up, or hurt, or bullied because of their religion or the color of their skin. But having each page be a written entry by a character really helped me understand how they were all feeling. I could put myself back there in Vermont during that time. I can't believe that both Leonora and Esther, even though she was only 6, could be social leaders and try to change what was going on, but they did. Even when they were physically hurt, they kept getting up. I really liked this book.

NEED A BOOK IDEA? Click on this link to access the top teen titles in the country for 2014: Top Teen Books

WHO ARE THE GATES ENGLISH TEACHERS READING? The Gates English teachers have their favorite middle school authors! Check out the following authors: Walter Dean Myers, Karen Hesse, Robert Cormier, Gary Paulsen, Suzanne Collins, S.E. Hinton, J.R.R. Tolkien, Libba Bray, Sharon Creech, Laurie Halse Anderson, Ralph Fletcher, Joan Bauer, and Sharon Draper.

SAMPLE TITLES: I have read all of the books listed below and they are appropriate for middle school students. However, one of the challenges with middle school books is that students vary greatly developmentally and socially. Some of these books, therefore, cover more mature, sensitive topics than other titles. Please make sure that the book you choose matches your independent reading level and interest.

Summary====== ======
Hesse, Karen
Social Leadership/
Overcoming Obstacles
This is wonderful (and short) novel about racism and living during a time when people were discriminated against for their race and religion. Each page is written by a different character and is written in a somewhat poetic form. The characters include a 12 year old African American girl and a 6 year old Jewish girl. It is a fabulous story and one that you can immerse yourself in because you are reading a story told by many different characters.
Walter Dean Myers
Overcoming Obstacles
Monster is a novel about a 16 year old African American teenager on trial for murder. It is written in play form, from the point of view of Steve Harmon, the main character. The book really draws you in because you are either reading Steve's thoughts as he is on trial for murder and you have no idea if he is guilty or not.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Alexie, Sherman
Overcoming Obstacles/Social Leadership
Arnold "Junior" Spirit is a teenager Spokane Native American who is the main character of this humorous book. This is a coming of age "young adult" book loved by many boys as it honestly and humorously portrays a boy who is experiencing all that fourteen year old boys experience. Junior transfers from the school on the Reservation to a basically all-white school, Reardon High. Junior ends up an outcast of both--the Reservation where he lives and the school he attends. Junior works hard at navigating both worlds and Sherman Alexie gives the reader a honest and funny portrayal of Junior.
Bamboo People
Mitali Perkins
Overcoming Obstacles
This coming-of-age novel takes place against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma. It is narrated by two fifteen-year-old boys on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of the many ethnic minorities in Burma, Violence, power, and prejudice are all covered in this fantastically told novel.
Laurie Halse Anderson
Overcoming Obstacles/Social Leadership
Speak is a challenging read, not because of reading difficulty, but because it concerns a girl, Melinda Sordino, entering her freshman year in high school who is labeled an outcast for supposedly calling the police during a summer party. However, she is holding on to a scary and terrible secret and this novel follows her through her first year in high school where she struggles incredibly, academically and socially. At the end we learn her secret and understand how strong she was the survive this first year of high school with support only from the art teacher.
Laurie Halse Anderson
Overcoming Obstacles
The novel is set in 1776, and begins in Rhode Island where two young slaves, Isabel and her younger sister, Ruth, end up being sold after the death of their "master", Miss Finch. The story is told through the eyes of Isabel, as the reader discovers the difficulty in being a slave, and particularly being a slave during war.
Laurie Halse Anderson
Overcoming Obstacles
Wintergirls is an exploration into eating disorders and is the story of Lia, a girl who struggles with anorexia and desperately deals with her addiction and her desire to live. This is a haunting story that I read several times as I grappled with understanding Lia's story. The first person narration is emotional as the reader feels deeply involved with Lia and her battles.
Sherri Smith
Overcoming Obstacles
Flygirl is a fabulous story about Ida Mae, an African American woman who learned how to fly for crop dusting and who desperately wants to be a female pilot during WWII. She applies to be pilot, pretending to be white, and this begins her journey. It is a wonderful story about following dreams and persevering even in the face of prejudice.
Gym Candy
Carl Deuker
Overcoming Obstacles
Mick Johnson is a high school football star following in his father's footsteps. When an injury threatens to sideline him, Mick decides that steroids "gym candy" are his only option. His life quickly becomes more difficult and we experience the emotions and difficulties that Mick faces.
The Breadwinner
Deborah Ellis
Overcoming Obstacles
Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, Pirvana has been rarely outdoors. However, when her father is arrested, she realizes that pretending to be a boy and working is the only way her family can survive. Pirvana has to navigate her pretend life and her work as she struggles to keep her identity a secret.
Every Soul a Star
Wendy Masse
Overcoming Obstacles
Ally, Bree, and Jack are three tweens who find friendship during the summer at Moon Shadow Camp and realize how different they are but how much they have in common. Ally lives the camp and loves spending the summer deep into her astronomy. Bree would rather be a model that anything else and Jack is only at the camp so he does not have to attend summer school for failing science. This is a wonderful story of friendship.
Flags of Our Fathers
James Bradley
Overcoming Obstacles/Social Leadership
This incredible nonfiction account of friends who fight together in the battle of Iwo Jima is available in a YA version. James Bradley draws you in from the first page and you feel you are on the front lines with these soldiers as they experience fear, death, friendship, and survival. For those of you who enjoy "war books," this one is for you.
Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies
Erin Dionne
Overcoming Obstacles
Celeste, an eighth grade student, is entered into a "Miss Husky" beauty pageant by her loving, but interfering aunt. This book is about her journey and realization that weight does not define who you are as a person. It is funny, uplifting book as Celeste deals with bullying as well surviving the middle school years. It is an easier read that has been read by many sixth and seventh grade girls.
Tears of a Tiger
Sharon Draper
Overcoming Obstacles/Social Leadership
Tears of a Tiger is a book loved by every student at Gates who has read it. It is fictional, but realistic account of a 17 year old boy who feels responsible or the death of his best friend because of drunk driving. The boys are all players on the basketball team and go out to celebrate after a victory. This is a story about the journey that they and their friends took as they dealt with the terrible tragedy of losing a friend.
Copper Sun
Sharon Draper
Overcoming Obstacles
The first time I read this book I could not put it down. Sharon Draper is one of my favorite authors. This is a fictional story about a girl Amari who survives the African slave trade and ends up living in the United States. The book is graphic and disturbing at times because Sharon Draper writes about the actual horrors of being captured by a slave trader and sold into slavery in the United States. This book chronicles Amari's life and experiences as she desperately tries to keep her spirit amidst the reality of slavery. I recommend this for mature middle school students.
A Long Way Gone
Ishmael Baeh
Overcoming Obstacles
Ishmael Baeh was a child soldier, desperate to escape the horrors of his life in Sierra Leone. This a nonfiction account of his life. Many Gates students read this book in seventh grade, when they study Africa. They all really enjoy this book but it is very graphic in parts because Baeh describes being a child soldier and how he lives and is forced to fight.
Lord of the Flies
William Golding
Overcoming Obstacles/Social Leadership
This is another of my all time favorite books. I first read it when I was your age. A group of boys have to survive on an island after their plane crashes during the war. They are British and have to learn how to live and govern themselves. It is challenging to read because of the British slang and terms, but is a wonderful adventure story. This book was published in 1954 but is still a favorite. What do you do when there are no adult rules, no society? Who is in charge? A great, challenging read.
The Outsiders
Overcoming Obstacles/Social Leadership
If you ask your parents, they probably read this book too. This is a true coming of age book, about a boy Ponyboy Curtis who is growing up in Oklahoma on the "wrong side of town." He is a member of a group called the Greasers, His life changes forever when he and his friend are attacked by boys who call themselves the Soc's because they are from the rich side of town.
Ghosts of War
Ryan Smithson
Overcoming Obstacles
In this memoir, Ryan Smithson details his work in Iraq, the dangers he faced every day as a soldier, and the wonderful lessons he learned. He enlisted in Army after 9/11, as soon as he graduated from high school. It is a fabulous book because it is real and you experience all that Ryan experienced. There is language and some graphic violence.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Aron Ralston
Overcoming Obstacles
This is a true story about Aron Ralston, who fell while climbing and had to spend 127 hours alone. It is an amazing journey of survival.
Amazing Grace
Megan Shull
Overcoming Obstacles/Social Leadership
This nonfiction story is about a professional tennis player who decides to leave the "glamour life" and go live in Alaska. It is her story of why she left the "perfect dream" and what she learned about herself while in Alaska. I consider this book a quick, fun, engaging read.
Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
Overcoming Obstacles/Social Leadership
The Hunger Games trilogy is a fabulous group of three books that chronicles the lives of teenagers forced to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal survival game. All three books keep you on the edge of your seat. I actually don't usually read fantasy, but these books were wonderful. They draw you in from page 1.
Hatchet series
Gary Paulsen
Overcoming Obstacles
The Hatchet series (Hatchet, Brian's Winter, Brian's Return, etc.) are my favorite adventure books. They are all about a teenager Brian, whose plane crashes and his life immediately becomes one of survival. When you read these books, you feel like you are actually there with Brian as he encounters hunger, a lack of shelter, dangerous animals, and being alone.

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